Across the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, there are dozens of popular hill stations that see hordes of visitors throughout the year. However, there is one secluded and quiet hill town that lies gorgeously off the tried-and-trodden path. Tucked away in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand, Chakrata is a beautiful hill retreat full of lush greenery, waterfalls, caves, adventure activities, gorgeous Himalayan peaks, and plenty of fresh mountain air, making it bucket-list worthy.
Perched at an altitude of 2,118 meters amid the rhododendron, coniferous, and Himalayan oak forests and far away from the modern sounds of urban life, Chakrata allows you to bask in peace and nature.
What to See and Do
This place is a haven for adventure enthusiasts, nature and wildlife lovers, and peace seekers. You can partake in a range of activities here.
For the Adventure Enthusiasts
There’s plenty of adventure activities to take part in, like river rafting, camping, and rock climbing in the dense Deoban forest, and rappelling the 312-feet-tall Tiger Falls, which is definitely not for the faint of heart. Also, the towering Himalayan peaks in Chakrata serve as a perfect base for mountain climbing. You can also go horse riding as there’s no better way to experience the beauty of this quaint hill station than by horseback.
If trekking is more your thing, then set off for a trek of three miles to scenic Tiger Falls, surrounded by verdant deodar vegetation. Upon reaching the falls, trekkers will be mesmerized by the beautiful sight of the confluence of white-frothy water thundering as it tumbles down from the hill and forms a small pond down below, as well as the shades of green from the surrounding vegetation. At an altitude of 95 meters (312 feet), it is said to be India’s highest direct waterfall.
There are several tours and camps operating in Chakrata that arrange for adventure activities, and even offer tents, complete with basic amenities.
If you’re a ski lover, head to the Mundali, approximately 22 miles from Chakrata, that is blanketed in snow during winters, thus offering ski opportunities.
For Nature and Bird Lovers
For those who want to stay in the midst of green spaces, there is aplenty in Chakrata. The hill station is home to a vast expanse of forests of rhododendron, coniferous, and Himalayan oak, which are virgin and lets you be one with nature in solitude. Besides, these forests are home to a variety of flora and fauna, too.
If you’re a bird lover, then visit the Deoban, approximately 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) away from Chakrata. It is a scenic forest area set at an altitude of 2200 meters. You can revel in the peaceful nature of this area, with the gorgeous views of the snow-clad mountain ranges and dense deodar forest around. It is one of the best spots for birdwatching. A wide variety of bird species from Himalayan Woodpeckers to White Collared Blackbirds, Russet Sparrow, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, and several migratory birds can be spotted here.
Enjoy the Sunset From the Town’s Highest Peak, Chilmiri Neck
Chakrata is home to one of the highest peaks in Uttarakhand—the Chilmiri Neck. The views from this peak are beautiful any time of the day, but watching the sunset from here, combined with the jaw-dropping views of the Banderpooch Massif, Rohini Peak, and Swarga Peak will take your breath away. Also, being surrounded by dense forests that are home to a variety of bird species, it is the perfect spot for birdwatching, and you can also spot some brightly colored butterflies here.
Among the natural beauty to be found in the district is the enigmatic and intrinsically captivating Budher Caves (Moila Tibba) that rests approximately 24 miles from Chakrata. This cave is said to be dug out by the Pandava brothers of the mythological tale Mahabharata during their exile, and stretches out 150 meters in length. It is formed out of limestone rocks, and you can admire the stalagmite and stalactite formations hanging like chandeliers in the cavern.
To get the firsthand experience of the lifestyle, culture, and tradition of the villagers, you can explore the villages in and around the town, either on bicycle or foot. One of the must-visit villages is the Jaunsari village, where peace and quietude are intrinsic, and it is known for its quirky wooden architecture. The Makhti Pokhari, located 3.7 miles from Chakrata, is also worth a stop for its stunning views of the undulating valleys and of course, the amiable locals.
When to Visit
Being surrounded by mountain ranges, Chakrata experiences pleasant weather year-round. However, from June until September, it does receive sporadic rainfall, which is not favorable for adventure activities for which the area is known for. The best time to visit is March-May, October, and November as the weather is pleasant and fresh. If you’re a snow lover, visit from December until February, as the village is blanketed in snow. It is advisable to pack heavy woolens if traveling in this season.
As it is a military cantonment area, foreign nationals are required to obtain a special entry permit, which is issued by the Special Frontier Force (SFF) or Establishment 22 headquartered here.
Where to Stay and Eat
For stay, there are guesthouses and budget hotels on offer. Some of the worth-staying options include Chakrata Forest Rest House, Hill Knights Hotel, Snow View Hotel, Escape Tribal Camps, and Hotel Himalayan Paradise. Most of the hotels in the area have in-house restaurants, and guesthouses also have food facilities. Besides, there are a few roadside food joints and small restaurants in the town that serve everything from local cuisine to Indian and Chinese. Some of them are Jeet restaurant, Pushp restaurant, sher-e-punjab dhaba, and Janta dhaba, to name a few.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Chakrata is by rail. The nearest railway station is a Dehradun railway station, which is well-connected with the major cities, like Kolkata, Delhi, etc., and takes approximately four hours via taxi/bus from the station to Chakrata.
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